By Jim Mendoza| September 15, 2014 at 8:56 PM HST - Updated July 20 at 10:11 PM
WAHIAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow)
In a draft statement the U.S. Army said there would be no significant impact on Wahiawa town if the Department of Defense cut back on the number of soldiers at Schofield Barracks.
But the president of the Wahiawa Community and Business Association said Wahiawa's businesses would be on the front lines of a decline.
"They really depend on the military and their dependents for survival," Doug Aton said.
Al Frenzel of the Oahu Council for Army Downsizing said personnel cuts would mean the army would need less space so the state could re-acquire property.
"Schofield and Wheeler Army Airfield house 38,000 soldiers and family members," he said. "Imagine what that could do for real affordable housing?"
The Pentagon proposes reducing Schofield by 16,000 personnel and Fort Shafter by 3,800 by 2020.
"The 25th Infantry Division is also an integral part of our Hawaii community, and in particular Wahiawa, Mililani, Haleiwa and surrounding areas. In a worst case scenario (the full 19,800 soldiers proposed removed from Schofield and Fort Shafter), Hawaii would lose an estimated $1.35 billion to our economy," said Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of Chamber and Commerce Hawaii.
"We've gone through a lot of deployments of various units of the 25th Infantry Division," Aton said. "We've felt the deployments. We've felt the loss of sales and revenue generation, and also the loss of income."
Frenzel is a retired Army Colonel who lives on the Leeward Coast.
"The advantage of returning Kolekole pass to the state of Hawaii and the Department of Transportation would provide a billion-dollar access route for my constituents and friends and family on the Leeward Coast," he said.
Frenzel believes downsizing Schofield and Shafter give the state access to facilities that could be turned into film studios and educational sites for the University of Hawaii.
Aton said that could take years. Meantime, Wahiawa would lose military partnerships that are vital to its economic revitalization.
"That will be disrupted and the continuity of those programs will be put on hold. We're hoping that we don't see that," Aton said.
The Army wants to reduce its troops worldwide by 100,000 to 130,000. Schofield and Shafter are two of 30 installations on the list to lose soldiers and personnel.